“Why don’t horses in the wild need to have their feet trimmed?”
Wild horses are constantly on the move looking for grass and water. Their feet encounter rocks and rough terrain, which keeps their feet in acceptable shape.
Domesticated horses, on the other hand, typically stay within a few acres of pasture or soft dirt, which means there’s little opportunity to trim their own feet. That’s where you and your farrier come in.
Horses should have their feet examined and/or trimmed every 4-8 weeks. Some owners also choose to shoe their horses.
First and foremost, the horse owner is responsible for daily monitoring your horses’ feet. Pick out the rocks and dirt with a hoof pick, and brush off the whole bottom of the foot so you can detect any dark spots, cracks or holes. Abnormalities should be reported to your farrier or vet, so you can determine whether any treatment is required.
What is a farrier?
A farrier is an expert in hoof health. They can look at the outside of the hoof and tell you exactly what’s happening inside. They not only trim and shoe horses, but farriers can also tell you if your horse’s diet is affecting his feet. Experienced farriers have seen every manner of horse and owner, so they’re a wealth of information.
A good farrier is worth his or her weight in gold, because the hoof is the literal foundation of a horse’s good health. In our area, routine trims for barefoot horses can cost anywhere from $35 to $50, with some farriers charging a “farm call” – the cost of traveling to your facility – in addition to their service. Shoes can start at $100, depending upon how many and what type is required.
Word of mouth is always a great way to find a good farrier. You can also go to professional associations to start your search.
Some of our horses require veterinarian-assisted hoof treatment, which routinely costs $200 to $300 per horse, per session.
For Swingin’ D Horse Rescue to stay on top of our horses’ feet, we pay anywhere from $450 to $700 every 6 to 8 weeks, which equates to about $4,000 to $6,000 per year (plus about 20 percent in tips).
If you dream of owning a horse, you should understand that horses are expensive. Be sure to factor the cost of routine hoof care into your decision.
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